Local banks finish merger

System changes coming Memorial Day weekend

Two banks with branches in Bartholomew County have finalized their merger and next month will complete the process of converting operating systems.

Cincinnati-based First Financial Bancorp and Greensburg-based MainSource Financial Group Inc. officially merged Sunday.

The merged company operates as First Financial Bancorp., with its banking subsidiary First Financial Bank, and has total assets of about $14 billion, according to a news release. First Financial shareholders own 63 percent of the company, MainSource shareholders 37 percent.

“We are excited to combine two community-focused financial institutions who are both significantly involved in the markets they serve,” Archie M. Brown Jr., president and CEO of the newly combined First Financial Bank, said in a news release.

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“We look forward to providing our clients with additional lending capabilities and expanded product offerings while continuing to deliver a high-quality and personal level of service,” said Brown, who previously served as MainSource’s chairman, president and CEO.

The banks previously announced in July their plans for the merger, valued at $1 billion.

“We see this merger as a significant milestone in our company’s history that positions us for continued growth and success,” Claude E. Davis, First Financial’s executive chairman, said in a news release.

“Our commitment to provide value to our clients, communities and shareholders remains our top priority, and by joining together, our expanded First Financial team will continue striving to provide superior service and exceed expectations for all of our constituents,” said Davis, previously First Financial’s president and CEO.

The merged bank has four branches in Columbus, one in Hope and one in the Taylorsville/Edinburgh area:

  • 125 Third St., Columbus
  • 707 Creekview, Columbus
  • 3950 Jonathan Moore Pike, Columbus
  • 2531 Eastbrook Plaza in Columbus
  • 8475 State Road 9, Hope
  • 3880 W. Presidential Way, Edinburgh

Next steps

MainSource banking centers will operate under the name MainSource Bank until operating systems are converted over the Memorial Day weekend. That process is planned for May 25 to 28 and involves MainSource banking centers, the client relationships and all accounts converting to First Financial Bank, according to a news release.

All MainSource banking centers will be closed May 26 for the transition. They will reopen May 29 under the First Financial brand, and clients will have access to a network of about 150 banking centers and more than 55,000 ATMs, the news release stated.

Prior to the conversion, clients will receive a welcome guide detailing the transition and the benefits of being a First Financial client, the bank said.

MainSource customers will receive information prior to the conversion about changes to their debit cards and passwords for online banking, Brown previously said.

First Financial associates are available to assist clients, answer their questions and process transactions, the bank said.

Previous changes

The conversion will be one of the final steps in the merger process for the banks. Previously, MainSource had to find a buyer for five of its branches as part of an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, because of federal rules about monopolies and competition, which sets limits on the concentration of deposits by one banking company in one market.

Jasper-based German American Bank agreed Feb. 13 to buy five MainSource branches:

  • Columbus downtown, 529 Washington St.
  • Columbus north, 1901 25th St.
  • Columbus west, 2310 W. Jonathan Moore Pike
  • Columbus drive-through, 803 Washington St.
  • Greensburg Plaza, 304 E. 10th St.

An agreed sale of the branches to a buyer was required before federal approval of the merger between First Financial and MainSource could be granted. The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System approved the merger Feb. 22.

Brown said May 19 is the target date to complete the divestiture of the former MainSource branches to German American.

The banks also have been closing branches and eliminating jobs as part of the consolidation. They said in July that 45 to 50 branches would close and about 400 positions would be eliminated because of overlap in the markets.

Through attrition, people leaving for other jobs and eliminations, the expected staffing level should be reached by the fourth quarter, Brown previously said.

They already have closed 15 branches since late last year, and have identified another 26 for closure, mainly because of overlap in the markets. Examples of branches nearby that are closing, Brown said, are:

The First Financial branch at 2070 State Road 7 North in North Vernon, while the MainSource branch at 521 N. State St. will continue.

The MainSource and First Financial branches in Franklin, at 597 Banta St. and 1073 W. Jefferson St., respectively, will close while a new First Financial branch is built off U.S. 31.

The MainSource branch in Shelbyville, 2507 Progress Way, will close, while the First Financial branch, 1850 Marketplace Blvd., continues.

Merger meets needs

Brown and Davis said in July that combining forces made sense for their two companies’ needs and futures. MainSource sought a greater presence in metro markets, and the merger accelerates that process five to 10 years, Brown said. As a merged, larger bank, First Financial can better absorb costs related to steeper financial and regulatory impact that the bank was anticipating because of its growth, Davis said.

According to the terms of the July 25 agreement, each share of MainSource common stock has been converted into the right to receive 1.3875 shares of First Financial common stock, with cash to be paid in lieu of fractional shares, according to a news release.

What's next

MainSource banking centers, the client relationships and all accounts will convert to First Financial Bank’s operating system May 25 to 28.

All MainSource banking centers will be closed May 26 and will reopen May 29 under the First Financial brand.

MainSource clients will be notified about the conversion and what it means before it occurs.

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Kirk Johannesen is assistant managing editor of The Republic. He can be reached at johannesen@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5639.